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Are expensive shock absorbers worth it?.


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Currently have the rear suspension stripped down on my MK1 Vitesse 2L CV to replace the oil seals on the diff half shafts, job now done. Have bought a set of polyurethane bushes for the rebuild and just have the cheap black shock absorbers and was wondering if Koni, Spax etc. are worthwhile for a car which has normal use.

 

Regards

Paul

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I bought Gaz from the club shop, they are adjustable but not fully adjustable, I mean the plate the spring sits on is fixed, on the top of the range ones this is also adjustable. I thought that a step too far for my "normal" use. What adjustment I have is set to the middle setting. They are a vast improvement over the standard units, my teeth no longer chatter involuntarily! However, my standard units were pretty old and needed replacing. Opinions at my area meeting were that modern standard units are poor quality and should be avoided. I believe the club shop stopped stocking  the standard Monroe's as they were no longer what they used to be.

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this is a love em or hate em subject,

    ive used spax and gaz on the vit6 ,  spax needs screwdriver to index the valve gaz have a knob to twiddle.

 

 they are all well made units and the cost reflects some of this,

 

the hardest job is what do you set them too  everyone likes something different ,  zebedee boing ...or bash and crash

 

to get a rational bump and rebound setting we dont have a chassis dyno so its down to trial and error

along with the varying load in the car

the spax on the back ended up with  lightest setting, half way was far too hard , the gaz on the front were set around halfway 

but be prepared for some get out and get under to twiddle the  rear settings to get the desired ride quality

 

the black ones are fit and forget , and you get what your given 

just some ramblings

Pete

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Paul.

 

Although slightly different to your Mk1 Vitesse, I have a Mk2 with Rotoflex.

 

I changed to struts via the usual conversion and went for the Gaz option. I think they are a very underrated & overlooked shock which deliver equally well compared to Spax & Koni. With the latter two you are paying towards their name, and there is a bit of snob factor with some owners insisting upon ONLY Koni or Spax will do; which is complete rubbish.

 

After nearly 5K miles of all sorts of driving moods, I can only report good things and am very happy with them. As Doug & Pete have alluded to, it is a case of fine tuning to compliment your driving style and physical payload within the car. Worth getting it correct without a doubt.

 

Try the lightest then stiffest then mid way point and you will soon know which end of the scale will be suiting your requirements.

 

Good luck.

 

Richard. 

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I have just changed the dampers on the rear of my MkII Vitesse and have gone with GAZ.  They have made a vast improvement.  The previous dampers were Konis but saying that, they had been on the car for a very long time and were well past their best, so not a fair comparison.  I agree with Richard that the GAZs are possibly a bit underrated, although it's early-days and time will tell how well they stand up to, admitiedly, normal use, say 5000-miles/year.  Personally, I would not use Spax but I know some people swear by them.  Also, probably best to avoid the unbranded ones, unless others know different.

 

Let us know what you decide to do.  Maybe now would be a good time to write to Santa.....

 

Tom

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Hello again, Paul. I used KYB's sourced from an outfit on ebay; the blurb was that KYB supply to a number of modern-day car makers. Along with the blue "comfort grade" polybushes which are as near to standard spec as I could get. I have been very happy with the set-up. no problems at all. I still get some scuttle shake on poor road surfaces at times but there you are, it's an old car.  It did seem a bit odd, though, fitting Japanese parts to a Spitfire...

Scuttle shake... that's bound to bring out the toilet humour... :rolleyes: 

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Any thoughts on Monroe dampers,  Ace Parts have a pair of rears for the GT6 on ebay for £59.28 incl. delivery?

 

I know that they are non-adjustable, but surely a better ride than the standard black ones,

 

                                                        John

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I have just changed the dampers on the rear of my MkII Vitesse and have gone with GAZ.  They have made a vast improvement.  The previous dampers were Konis but saying that, they had been on the car for a very long time and were well past their best, so not a fair comparison....

Tom

Tom, I hope you didn't "bin" those Konis. The ones for the Roto-flex suspension are NLA...but Koni will still rebuild them. I've had Konis on various Spitfires and GT6+ models (not to mention at least one Volvo 144) and have LOVED them!

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I changed to struts via the usual conversion and went for the Gaz option. I think they are a very underrated & overlooked shock which deliver equally well compared to Spax & Koni. With the latter two you are paying towards their name, and there is a bit of snob factor with some owners insisting upon ONLY Koni or Spax will do; which is complete rubbish.

 

 

Spa had some real issues many years ago (shocks unscrewing themselves and coming apart after just a few miles, as in 5-10!) but I presume just a bad batch. Put me off though! 

Koni, I understand, are differently valved to the others, and much less vulnerable to oil temp changes caused by hard use. They also seem to last very well, mine are 20 years old, and when I checked them, seemed to still work as good as new. They have not had an easy life either, but then again they have only covered about 50-60K (they were stored for 6 years after they came off my vitesse and before they went on my spitfire)

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If you're interested in NOS shockers give Mansfield Shock Absorbers a call on 01623 633381. When at the NEC I had a long chat with the guy who runs it and got the impression that there isn't much he doesn't know about shock absorbers and the changes in brand ownership over the years (he can identify year of manufacture by looking at the standard of welding!)

 

Wayne

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In answer to Herald 948's query, no I did not ditch the Konis; I have kept hold of them for the very reason you suggest - they can be reconditioned.  Anyone any idea of cost?

 

Tom 

I did look into this a couple years ago. Typical price from Koni or one of their "approved rebuilders" usually is right around the price of a new Koni. Of course, if a new Koni is no longer available, or if the currently available Koni isn't quite like the original (which seems to be the case with the front shocks), then that rebuild cost doesn't seem so bad! Besides, if you only have to go through this every 20-30 years.... ;)

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This is a very timely post as I visited LEDA last Thursday and was treated to a tour of their manufacturing site, though small they are experts in their field and very much bespoke damper manufacturers. I first used them in the early eighties to get some uprated front struts for a 1300 Escort I had at the time as they were very much linked to Ford then as they were based down the road from Ford Dagenham.

 

The company was set up on what were copies of the old Armstrong damper units and have evolved and improved and each damper is tailor made for the application. The company is now based in Lincolnshire and manufacture small batches of dampers to original specifications or your own specification. While I was there I saw a pair of front struts for a 2500 Rally Car being assembled, all done by hand. The likes of Spax, GAZ, Koni, AVO etc use damper modules inside and they only come in steps, so the profile you need may be between one module and another so you have to compromise, with LEDA units they are made individually to suit your requirements, so no comprimise is required.

So needless to say if you want something special or you have a particular requirement that the commonly available offerings don't supply I sugest you try LEDA (Please note the club shop has no ties or affiliations to LEDA, this recomendation is just my own observations while I was there)

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